An Ocean of Tears

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Yesterday we heard that UK deaths from COVID-19 had reached 100,000 +. Today we mark International Holocaust Memorial Day and remember the millions of Jews who died in the concentration camps and death camps of the Nazi era. What sadness, what an ocean of tears! Statistics have a way of appearing inhuman, yet we know that every figure represents a human person, an individual, infinitely loved by God, tenderly loved by family and friends, and we feel helpless in the face of so much suffering and anguish. It is good that we should. If we did not feel pain, would we ever know compassion? Would we ever try to make things better for others?

I have often thought about my mother who, when I was young, paid a weekly visit to someone I’ll call Hedwig — a survivor of Nazi ‘experimentation’, who led a sad and lonely life, consumed by fear, all her possessions gathered into a few carrier bags. My mother wasn’t a ‘do-gooder’, nor was she motivated by religion or any ‘ism’. She knew what it was to grieve (she lost two brothers during World War II) and she knew that Hedwig grieved the loss of everyone and everything familiar to her, so she did what she could to reassure her that she was both loved and lovable. I hope her sympathy and interest made life a little better for Hedwig. I know it did for me. Go figure, as they say.

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4 thoughts on “An Ocean of Tears”

  1. Yes, statistics are vitally necessary but who can get such huge numbers into their heads?
    It’s only when we think of individuals that it becomes real – yesterday we had the news that a third friend has died of Covid. A truly wonderful woman whose family escaped from Germany in 1938 when she was child. She was my husband’s German teacher and sang in the choir of a Catholic Church. Her father was a non observant Jew and her mother Lutheran. What is hard is not being able to visit the widowers and widow of our friends. Grieving these days a beyond lonely business.

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  2. It seemed so insignificant to light a candle (yet I still did). Along with a prayer and the effort to remember that each person had feelings like me, it goes some way to marking such horrible events/statistics – to overlook or forget would be a million times worse.

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